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Firefox is putting ads in its search bar

Thankfully, there is an option to disable the “feature.”

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Image: KnowTechie

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Things haven’t been going so well for Firefox, although its die-hard fans have stayed faithful. That might change in the near future, as the browser is adding sponsored address bar suggestions. Yes, ads, before you even see a webpage.

It’s called Firefox Suggest, and if you can’t see it on your copy of Firefox yet, that’s probably because it’s only available for a small percentage of Firefox users in the US right now.

Mozilla, Firefox’s parent company, describes it as “a new feature that serves as a trustworthy guide to the better web, surfacing relevant information and sites to help you accomplish your goals,” but that’s just a fancy way to say “serve you ads in more places.”

This new place is your address bar, with one or two sponsored ads, at the bottom of your usual search results. Awkward, sure, but the really bad part is that to power it, Firefox is sending your keystrokes from your browser to Mozilla’s servers. That includes what you’re typing in, your location information, and more. Eww.

That powers Mozilla’s contextual suggestions, but you might not be comfortable sending that much information to Mozilla, especially if you’re using a privacy-focused search engine like DuckDuckGo.

mozilla firefox settings menu showing where to turn off firefox suggest
Image: Firefox
Open the Preferences menu in Firefox
Click on Privacy & Security then search for Address Bar – Firefox Suggest
Untick the boxes next to Contextual Suggestions and Include occasional sponsored suggestions
Also, you might want to stop Firefox from sending your keystrokes to your default search engine as you type in the address bar. Click on Change preferences for search engine suggestions then untick the Provide search suggestions option.

That will stop the advertising from showing up in your menu bar when you search for things. At least, until Firefox changes something again and you have to find another menu option to disable it.

If you don’t mind the occasional advert in your searches, know that Firefox says it does fund development costs, so you’re helping keep your favorite browser alive by allowing those small ads.

Have any thoughts on this? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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Maker, meme-r, and unabashed geek with nearly half a decade of blogging experience at KnowTechie, SlashGear and XDA Developers. If it runs on electricity (or even if it doesn't), Joe probably has one around his office somewhere, with particular focus in gadgetry and handheld gaming. Shoot him an email at joe@knowtechie.com.

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